Thousands of Avandia heart attacks could have been prevented

Austin Kirk

By Austin Kirk
Posted January 24, 2008


According to estimates made by FDA staff scientists, approximately 83,000 additional heart attacks have been caused by Avandia since the drug came onto the market. Information outlined in a Senate Finance Committee report suggests that many of these Avandia heart attacks could have been avoided if the drug manufacturer had acted responsibly, instead of intimidating and silencing scientists who expressed concerns about the diabetes drug’s cardiovascular risks.

>>INFORMATION: Avandia Heart Attack Side Effects

In May 2007, the New England Journal of Medicine published a report which found that users of Avandia had a 43% increased risk of suffering a heart attack. The independent research brought concerns about the Avandia heart attack risks to the public’s attention. However, GlaxoSmithKline, the drug’s maker, was aware of the potential cardiovascular risks associated with their drug for nearly a decade before this report, and not only failed to warn consumers about the risks, but actively worked to keep the information from the public.

Following the New England Journal of Medicine report, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee investigated accusations that Glaxo attempted to intimidate Dr. John Buse, an independent scientist who had voiced concerns about Avandia heart risks as early as 1999. A November 2007 report titled “The Intimidation of Dr. John Buse and the Diabetes Drug Avandia” describes the findings of the Senate Finance Committee and outlines the despicable actions of Glaxo executives who serve at the highest levels of the company.

Executives of the pharmaceutical company discussed Dr. Buse’s views in a series of emails with the subject “Avandia Renegade.” They described ways that they could silence his criticism of their growing diabetes drug by putting pressure on him through his supervisors and threatening to sue him. Their emails described the actions they would take as “a well planned offensive on behalf of Avandia.”

Dr. Buse was eventually pressured to sign a “retraction letter” prepared by the drug maker, which indicated that he was no longer concerned about the Avandia heart risks. However, on several subsequent occasions he continued to voice his concerns privately in letters and emails.

The Senate Finance Committee report quotes one email sent by Dr. Buse to Dr. Nissen, who authored the May 2007 New England Journal of Medicine report. He wrote:

Immediately, the company’s leadership contact my chairman and a short and ugly set of interchanges occurred over a period of about a week ending in my having to sign some legal document in which I agreed not to discuss this issue further in public…. I was certainly intimidated by them but frankly did not have the granularity of data that you had and decided that it was not worth it.

The report concludes by indicating that the series of events surrounding the silencing of Dr. Buse raise serious concerns about the culture of leadership at GlaxoSmithKline, and the Senate Finance Committee suggests:

Had Dr. Buse been able to continue voicing his concerns without being characterized as a “renegade” and without the need to sign a “retraction letter”, it appears that the public good would have been better served.


The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are reviewing potential Avandia lawsuits throughout the United States for users of the drug who suffered a heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure or death. GlaxoSmithKline recklessly and carelessly continued to promote Avandia as a safe and effective treatment for type II diabetes even though they were aware of serious heart risks which may be caused by their medication.

If you, friend or family member have suffered an Avandia heart attack or other injury which may have been caused by side effects of the diabetes drug, request a free Avandia lawsuit evaluation.

1 Comment • Add Your Comments

  • Debra says:

    My mom was prescribed Avantia IN 1999 to treat her then diagnosed type -2 diabetes. She took the medication for about 6 months to a year. Then in 2001 or 2002 she had triple by-pass surgery in New York City.

    Posted on February 23, 2010 at 10:27 pm

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